Today was the first day of winter and in some ways it felt like it around here. The weather roller coaster peaked Thursday and is currently slowly declining. The day started cloudy and thickened as the day progressed. The temperature made it into the fifties, but not by much.
I got caught by the football watching bug again today. I went looking for the Patriots game on the NFL network three hours early and got caught watching the Houston vs. Tampa game. The time I was using had already been adjusted for the this time zone. The Patriots vs. Bills game actually started at 1:30 PST time. I gave up watching at half time and went for a walk around the RV park. The flow of the game seemed to be heading for a Patriots loss. By the time I got back to the game, during the fourth quarter things were looking better.
During my walk at half time I was near the main road in front of the park. Traffic was very heavy and the south bound direction was completely blocked. I’m not sure if it was just holiday traffic or a backup caused by the Las Vegas Bowl game between Boise State and Washington. The TV news didn’t report on any accidents in the area and they delight in covering accidents with major damage or injuries. I’m betting it was traffic for Sam Boyd Stadium, the location for the game. It is about five miles away in that direction. Either way, the traffic discouraged my thoughts about leaving park today.
My second walk of the day was just after dark. A few new Christmas decorations have appeared on RVs in the park. Other decorations were dark along with the RVs. It looks like many people have returned home for the holidays. There were also more empty sites than yesterday. I’m sure it will be busy again after the first of the year.
Today’s temperature held consistent with yesterday. It peaked in the mid fifties. The difference was in the sky. The day began with a bright sun in a blue sky, but it ended with the sun hidden behind clouds.
The clouds changed my plan for the day. When it was sunny, I was going to take another hike in the Clark County Wetlands park followed by a stop at Walmart for groceries. The cloudy day took the luster off my planned walk in the park. Thinking about the Christmas shopping crowds made the idea of a visit to Walmart unappealing. I need groceries soon, so I have to find a time that Walmart isn’t a mob scene or go to a real grocery store.
In a bit of a paradox my limited grocery supply put me into full on cooking mode this afternoon. My main choice in the refrigerator was some stew beef. I spent the early afternoon getting the slow cooker started with the main ingredients for a beef stew. Later in the afternoon I was back in cooking mode dicing up potatoes to finish off the stew. It made a hardy evening meal with plenty of leftovers for another meal or two.
My exercise today was two walks around the RV park. It is in one of its quiet periods. There are a few more empty sites than normal and many RVs look like they’ve been abandoned for the holiday. The decorations are still nice, but not spectacular. People with golf carts have started decorating them for Sunday’s golf cart parade. The folks with the big Christmas Reindeer Snoopy on the roof have a smaller blow-up for the roof of their golf cart. I didn’t get to see it inflated yet, but it holds promise for creativity. Hopefully the weather will cooperate Sunday night.
Today was an incremental improvement in the weather from the previous couple of days. It was a bright sunny day with the high temperature in the mid fifties. The positive trend is forecast to continue into the weekend, but next week has rain in the forecast.
I took the Sam’s Town shuttle back to the Las Vegas strip today. The purpose of my visit was exploring the Christmas decorations in the northern part of the center strip. Just about all of the decorations on the strip are inside the casino hotels and shops. There is very little indication of the season on the outside of the properties.
Venetian and Palazzo
I walked from Harrah’s north to the Venetian and Palazzo. The second floor mall was filled with shoppers, but not much Christmas cheer. Most of the decorations were at the entrance to Palazzo from Venetian.
Wynn and Encore
My second major stop was at the Wynn and Encore properties. The holiday decorations were all surrounded by red, why and gold fake poinsettias. It was very pretty, but very culture neutral.
Fashion Show Mall
After walking through Wynn, I crossed Las Vegas Boulevard to the Fashion Show Mall. It was packed with people wandering in and out of the stores. I’m not sure what percent were shoppers and what percent were tourists. I didn’t see a lot of shopping bags in peoples hands.
As I continued south along the strip, I passed through Treasure Island on my way to the tram to Mirage. I didn’t see any decorations worth noting in the casino. The Mirage atrium had some decorations among the plants.
Caesars Forum Shops and Caesars Palace
The entrance to the Forum Shops mall near Mirage leads to a lot of construction, but once you work through the maze the mall has some nice decorations. Caesars Palace has all of the seasonal decorations near the hotel lobby.
The clouds that arrived overhead Tuesday evening held on all day. Thankfully, the wind didn’t blow so it wasn’t too uncomfortable outside. The lack of sunshine didn’t help the inside temperature. I had to run the heat a bit to keep it comfortable.
My aging cell phone gets the blame for fouling up today’s plans. The battery doesn’t hold a charge as well as it did new and the micro USB port doesn’t make as good a connection as it once did. The result is that it isn’t charging when it should be. This morning the battery was dead and the phone was shutdown. It should be able to survive the night, but the old battery takes a dive to empty at about twenty five percent charge.
In this technology dependent world, I choose to wait for the phone to charge before going out. I need to do the research and buy a new phone before I leave Las Vegas on my summer travels. The Google Pixel 4 was at the top of my list, but its battery life isn’t good. I need to decide if I can live with the limited battery life, go with a Samsung Galaxy S10 or find something else. It will be another Android phone. I’m not an Apple fan.
While I was waiting for the phone to charge, I got back to summer travel planning. I booked a week in Monument Valley Utah, a week for a return visit to Lake Powell, another week near Zion National Park and a week including Memorial Day Weekend in West Yellowstone Montana. It will be a lot of traveling, but a few exciting stops along the way. There is still about two weeks in the middle of May that I haven’t booked. The reservation window for Utah State parks doesn’t open until next month.
My research for the remainder of the summer and fall continues. The last week in June into the Fourth of July holiday is my next priority. Next winter in Florida is also keeping my attention. Trying to get ahead of all of the planning is a pain, but I’m committed to getting the stress of planning over sooner than later.
I spent the end of the day at Sam’s Town casino. Once again I watched ten other people win the Young at Heart drawing. I just don’t play enough money through their machines to improve my odds, but it is fun to try. Listening to other people without a clue attempt to figure out the process and the rules is also interesting. One guy, I’ve seen there before, didn’t even know what the prize was.
The temperature got down just below freezing last night. The inside temperature was in the mid to upper forties when I turned on the electric space heater around quarter to eight this morning. With the help of the rising sun’s rays on the side of the RV it was soon comfortable inside.
Today was a better day for outside activity than Monday. The high temperature was a degree or two lower, but the wind wasn’t nearly as strong. A good sweat shirt was all I needed to be comfortable walking outside, so I took advantage of the conditions and made another visit to the Clark County Wetlands Park.
The Blue Heron was back on his favorite fishing rock this afternoon. He wasn’t stretched out in statue mode, but was still alert and closely watching the water. I don’t think food is very plentiful in the pond, but he is still hanging around the wetlands park. I first saw him about six weeks ago. The coots and turtles don’t pay any attention to him.
The park was quiet today. The few visitors I passed on my hike around the park were mostly bird watchers judging by the binoculars around their necks. The next couple of weeks are likely to much busier at the park. The kids are out of school and I think I heard that the park Nature Center had an event or two for the kids. If the weather holds I hope to get back to the park again this week while it is still a calming place.
Near the Las Vegas wash the trash brought down stream by the run off from rain storms continues to accumulate. The water level has gone down some since last weeks rains, but the heavy flow still makes it hard to clean up the trash. I know they clean it up periodically, because I’ve seen it trash free in the past. It would be very costly to clean it up after every storm. Hopefully, they’ll get to it soon. It is far too dangerous for amateur volunteer crews.
Winter weather is finally arriving in Las Vegas. Today’s high temperature and tonight’s forecast are the coolest it has been since I got to town. The last week of October had a few overnights in the thirties, but the days were warm. Early November had above normal temperatures followed by a few weeks of seasonal normal temperatures. Now we are entering a period with below normal temperatures. It barely made it to fifty today and tonight will be right around freezing. A similar pattern is forecast for the next few days.
During one of my walks around the park today I took a few pictures of the roses near the office. The blossoms are starting to look ragged and sloppy. These will probably be the last blossoms for this growing season. I’ve enjoyed checking them out every few days.
I was back in the travel research and planning mode today. To help figure things out and keep track of places I book, I’ve created several pages of grids that align with the calendar. I looked for a cheap calendar at Walmart, but the prices of 2020 calendars are still at peak season high. It wasn’t worth paying over ten dollars for something that I’m not going to hang up and will likely mess up with erasure and cross outs. Each of my 8.5X11 inch sheets has seventy seven days depicted. Two sheets cover the days starting from the third week in April to the second week of September.
So far I’ve penciled in the second half of April and the month of May with a tentative plan leading to a return to West Yellowstone the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend. From there I’ll work my way south and north for my planned stop in Rock Springs Wyoming at the end of June. Over the next day or two I’ll review what I’ve figured out and make reservations where possible. My goal remains to have as much as possible locked in by the start of the year.
At the same time I’m working on next summer the Rockies, I’m working on next winter in Florida. The eleven month reservation window for Florida State Parks continues to open. Today I switched my planned path to and from the Florida Keys. I’m now going to go south along the west side of Florida then return north along the east coast after my two week stay in the Keys. With this plan I’ll be in the Orlando area the first two weeks of December 2020.
It rained overnight Saturday into Sunday. The morning was cloudy but steadily clearing. Around midday the wind arrived. A steady northwest wind with strong gusts was the dominant weather element of the afternoon. It was not very comfortable outside with the same amount of warm clothing from Saturday. Another warmer layer was necessary to ward off the wind chill even though it was still in the fifties.
I spent most of the day inside doing a few chores and watching TV. Shortly before dark I started to get ready to take a drive in search of Christmas lights, but I got distracted cooking supper in response to a growling stomach. It’s a good thing I didn’t leave the park. A fatal hit and run accident in the area had traffic all messed up for hours.
There is a week and a half to Christmas. I find it hard to believe it is that close, but I plan to take advantage of the slow time in Las Vegas tourism to visit some of the tourist draws before they return.
Today is the first Saturday since late August that I’ve been able to have breakfast without college football on the TV. Today the only game was the Army Navy game which was on in the afternoon. It is only a brief reprieve. Next week the bowl games will fill take over for a couple of weeks. I really want to get back to a more active Saturday without getting caught up in watching football games on TV.
Today is the last day of the National Finals Rodeo here in Vegas. For the last ten days the Vegas culture has been over loaded with everything cowboy. When driving around you see lots of big horse trailers and the roving billboards all have a cowboy flavor. Walking around you see plenty of cowboy hats and cowboy boots. Little kids are even dressed in rodeo costumes complete with chaps.
The main venue for the Rodeo is the Thomas and Mack Arena at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The south hall of the Convention Center is dedicated to the NFR Experience and Cowboy Christmas. It is filled with entertainment, events for kids and booths that sells everything cowboy and ranch life. I’ve been to the event in the convention center other years, but didn’t go this year. Some of the strip casino hotels have other NFR related vendor exhibits and most of them have viewing parties complete with rodeo celebrities.
Some of the outlying casinos like Sam’s Town have even setup temporary stables in their parking lots. The South Point Casino has an equestrian center, so it has more permanent stables. During the NFR the events in their arena are more rodeo like than dressage. About a mile from my RV home is the Clark County Horse Park. During the NFR it is filled with horse trailers and exercise areas for horses. Several mounted cowboys in the park even made a roundup of several suspects running from the police. The TV News had fun with wild west comparisons.
Las Vegas really does it up big for the NFR. It draws visitors from all over the USA and Canada. Many ranch families use this as an annual vacation event. Most don’t even have tickets to one of the rodeo events, but are here for the other cowboy or ranching related shows and events. The northern ranchers get their ranches ready for winter then go off to Las Vegas before settling in for the long winter. I’m not sure what excuse the Florida cattle ranchers use, but there are plenty of them here as well.
I’m looking forward to the down time for visitors next week. It will give me an opportunity to see some of the sights on the strip and downtown before everything gets busy again after Christmas leading up to New Years. Right after New Years the Consumer Electronics Convention arrives. It’s one of the biggest events of the year.
I got back into travel research and planning mode this morning. It consumed the day with only one actual commitment made. I decided to attend the Escapees RV club’s annual Escapade in southwestern Wyoming. It is the third week in June which complicates some of my travel decisions. There are about two months of travel to plan before the event and two months after it before I have to start traveling toward the east coast. During September and most of October I have to get from the Rocky mountain region to the Florida Keys.
My first cut at a travel plan will keep me on the west side of the continental divide before the Escapade and on the west side after. I’ve visited many of the better known scenic areas on the west side, but that doesn’t mean I can’t return for another visit. One area that I would like to visit is Grand Teton National Park. Finding a place to stay in that area is proving to be difficult. There don’t seem to be many RV parks and the ones I can find are very expensive.
There doesn’t seem to be an obvious touring route that addresses all of my criteria. Right now I see a lot of zigzag route with some back tracking added in for good measure. I don’t want a lot of one, two and three night stays. A week or two in each location is my preference. I’m setting a goal to have the majority of 2020 travel planned before the year begins.
I’ve included a couple of additional pictures of Christmas decorations in the park and another beautiful sunset.
I’m not going to deny it. I was lazy today. I rolled over in bed a couple of times before getting up and spent a lot more time over breakfast once I did get up. I even had a rare second sixteen ounce cup of coffee. Once again the laundry didn’t get done today.
When the middle of the afternoon arrived I finally found a little initiative to make a grocery run. If I didn’t, my evening meal choices were limited and not very appealing. The Walmart was very busy with grocery shoppers. Christmas shoppers I could understand, but for some reason I waited in the checkout line behind four other shoppers with full grocery carts. The four other human staffed checkouts were similarly busy.
Food shopping on an empty stomach had the predicted result. I bought stuff I didn’t need and really shouldn’t binge on like Hershey’s Christmas Kisses. A precooked chicken satisfied the day’s lazy pattern and made for a quick meal once I got home. The large crowd turned the simple, less than an hour, trip to the store into a two hour plus exercise. It’s a good thing I went to the store less than a mile away.
The best part of today’s weather was at the end of the day. Most of the day had high thin clouds filtering the sunshine. Enough sun got through to raise the temperature above sixty which is higher than the normal for this time of year. Near nightfall the clouds started to clear but enough remained to the west for a beautiful sunset.